Dieting and weight loss

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Dieting and weight loss
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I Cognitive state: items were included to examine two types of cognitive state, which
were hypothesized to trigger overeating. These were a ‘passive cognitive state’ (e.g.
submit, quit, abandon) representing ‘giving in to the overpowering drive to eat’
and an ‘active cognitive state’ (e.g. rebellious, defiant, challenge) representing
overeating as an active decision to rebel against self-imposed restraint.
2 Rating scales. The subjects also completed the following set of rating scales:
I Motivational state: the subjects completed ratings of their hunger and fullness
using visual analogue scales (‘not at all hungry/full’ to ‘as hungry/full as I’ve ever
I Mood: anxiety and depression were measured using the Profile of Mood State
checklist (McNair et al. 1971).
I Cognitive state: The active and passive cognitive states were measured using a
checklist of relevant items.
The results for the Stroop tasks were analysed by creating a pure reaction time (experimental words – matched control words) and then by assessing the effect of condition
(low preload versus high preload) on the change in the reaction time from before the
preload to after the preload. The results showed that the dieters responded to the highcalorie preload with increases in ‘rebelliousness’, as measured by the active cognitive
state Stroop, increases in preoccupation with body shape and increases in the preoccupation food, as indicated by retarded reaction times on these tasks compared with
the non-dieters, and the dieters responses to the low-calorie preload. The results also
suggested that the dieters showed an increase in rebelliousness as measured by the rating
The results suggest that overeating in dieters in response to preloading may be related to
increased feelings of rebelliousness (‘what the hell, I’m going to eat whatever I want’),
increased concern with body shape and increased preoccupation with food. These results
indicate that diet-breaking behaviour shown by normal-weight dieters, the obese on
weight-reduction programmes and bulimics may relate to an active decision to overeat
and suggest that perhaps self-imposed limits (‘I’m going to eat less’) may activate a desire
to rebel against these limits.
Dieting and weight loss
Dieting is therefore associated with periods of overeating. Research indicates that this is
sometimes translated into weight fluctuations. Although dieters aim to lose weight by
attempting to restrict their food intake, this aim is only sometimes achieved. Heatherton
et al. (1991) reported that restrained eaters show both under- and overeating and that
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